Vincent Van Gogh once wrote, “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”

It’s an appropriate sentiment for which Hartford, Connecticut’s beloved, philanthropic dentist, Dr. Anatoliy Ravin, chooses to live by. In an era of overwhelm, when most people feel there is never enough time or resources, many can derive inspiration from a man who strives to do better in each new, small task he accomplishes.

Born in Russia to a family rich in professional medical experience and history (including a grandfather who was a WWII veteran in command of the St. Petersburg Navy,) Dr. Ravin has constructed a life rich in personalized care and charitable giving—one, small step at a time.

“I came here from Russia by myself,” Dr. Ravin says. “It made me grow up fast. I always knew I wanted to give back when I was able and as soon as I got that chance, that’s exactly what I did.”

Once Dr. Ravin’s private practice, Hospital Dental Group, established in 2001, developed a solid client base, Dr. Ravin began to satisfy his pull toward philanthropic pursuits by focussing in his own backyard. From volunteering dental services to veterans and coaching at a local community health center, Dr. Ravin submerged himself in volunteering–and not simply his experience, but his time and resources too.

Hartford Dentist Charity Interview

Dr. Ravin pictured with young recipients who received volunteer dental work in Peru.

In time, Dr. Ravin’s philanthropic work has literally spread across the globe–from the Amazon to Haiti to Peru. And, while providing dental and medical care for cultures in far off places, Dr. Ravin also treats four-legged residents.

“Any country I go to, especially the Amazon and Peru, it’s not uncommon to witness animals who’ve been burned,” Dr. Ravin says. “I bring 10 to 20 pounds of steroids with me to every country I go to as a way to help care for these animals.”

But that’s not all. Dr. Ravin also feeds homeless people and pets during his travels.

How, then, does a successful and accomplished dentist find the time and resources to address the multiple needs of underserved human and animal populations stateside and beyond while volunteering for “The Love of Jack,” a local nonprofit that provides assistance to animals in need, while maintaining a family life and caring for seven rescue dogs?

“I fly out of JFK when I travel abroad–usually at midnight. I work every day I’m there, then fly home and start work at my practice the next morning,” Dr. Ravin explains. “As long as you have support and friends who are willing to help you when you  return, anything is possible.”

Of his support system, Dr. Ravin’s wife and children continuously help in his business and in aiding his traveling philanthropic efforts. His network, however, extends beyond family to encompass his clients.

“I never go abroad without a patient in my practice,” Dr. Ravin says. “In the Amazon, I bring a patient of mine whose family lives in Peru. I often don’t know exactly where I’m going–even the name of the town or destination, but I do know and trust that my patient (or patient’s family) will pick me up from the airport.”

As for time, in the busy, full life of Dr. Ravin, there are no excuses.

“There is always time,” Dr. Ravin says. “The question is, are you willing to do it?”

Willingness has found its way in all Dr. Ravin does, in what he refers to as “each small step.”

“Do a little every day,” he says. “If we all did simply a little, it would make a big difference.”

So, while Dr. Ravin continues to take small steps that produce monumental results in the lives of those he touches, what does the future hold?

I will continue to do dentistry the same way I volunteer,” Dr. Ravin says. “ It doesn’t matter how many patients I treat; I know all about them. I may forget my own kids’ birthdays, but I’ll always remember the time a patient borrowed $20 from me for lunch and never let them live it down!”

“We have so many big box medical services,” he adds, “I don’t want to feel like a number, so why would I want my clients or animals to feel like one?”

Along with venturing on with personalized care in his practice and across continents, we may see Dr. Ravin’s reach expand to inspiring existing and new generations of dentists and medical professionals with a similar “bug” for philanthropy.

I would love to help streamline,” Dr. Ravin says. “It would be fun to guide other professionals.”

In the meantime, those who want more than simply excellent dental care and treatment can visit Dr. Ravin at his practice in Hartford, where chances are, they’ll take away a little (or a lot) of inspiration of how they too, can begin to affect big change through small steps. And if you do happen to schedule an appointment, be sure to ask Dr. Ravin about that time he was bitten by a snake in the Amazon!